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Where to Hunt Muleys for cheap!

If you’re dreams are filled with 200″ mule deer, you want to hunt in big buck country as often as possible. After all, the more time you can spend in the bedroom of a big deer, the better your odds of seeing or killing him.

As DIY hunter’s we’re often left with two options — purchase a landowner tag, or acquire a tag through the public draw/OTC purchase.  In this article we’ll look at the cost and potential of each state in regards to finding big muley bucks in easy to draw areas in the Rocky Mountains states.

#1: Colorado
Colorado has the country, management, and potential to produce whopper bucks in a lot of units — many of which can be drawn with 0-3 preference points. If you do your homework and work hard you can hunt Colorado every year as a non-resident in units where big bucks are killed every year. The availability of landowner tags makes Colorado a possibility if you struck out in the draws as well. Although it’s likely going to cost you $1600 plus to get a decent unit. For these reasons, Colorado hits the top of our list.
Cost: Habitat Stamp – $10, Deer License – $361
#2: Wyoming:
Wyoming comes second on our list. Although it can be hard to pull a great tag every year in Wyoming, you can find good hunts on leftover units, or in units that can be hunted every other year. Western Wyoming is getting harder to draw, but there are good Mule Deer all over the state. Decent tags (even region wide tags) can be had with 0-3 preference points.
Cost: Conservation Stamp -$12.50, Deer License – $312, Deer Special Price – $552

#3: Utah
Utah’s famous Henry Mountains are a pipe dream for most of us, so we’re looking at other units in the beehive state. Most limited entry units in Utah will take 5+ years to draw, so I’m counting them out. That being said, most of the state is split into “general units” that can be drawn with very few points. The hunts can be crowded, but don’t underestimate Utah as being a state with some great Mule Deer. They pump out some incredible bucks on their general hunts every year.
Cost: Hunting License – $65 Deer License – $268 (general) $469 Limited Entry, Premium LE $568
#4: Idaho
Sometimes Idaho gets kept to Idahoans. Which is great for them. Idaho has incredible country and a good opportunity to take a great mule deer buck. Rumor has it that herds are down and management has been a bit liberal in tag printing — that being said, there are still a lot of great deer in Idaho.
Cost: Deer Tag: 301.75 License – $154.75

#5: Nevada
Nevada has some great muley hunting and opportunities — but if you’re looking to hunt every 2-3 years, you’ll need to choose a short range weapon like archery or muzzleloader hunts. (Same goes for nearly every other state as well).
Cost: License: $142.00 Deer Tag: $300

#5: Arizona
When you think of Arizona, you think of the Strip — the narrow strip of AZ real estate north of the Grand Canyon. The best units are very difficult to draw. However, Arizona has some very good opportunities that can be purchased over the counter to hunt desert bucks. It’s not an easy hunt by any means, but the tags are easy to get, and the big ones are out there!
Cost: Deer tag: $315 Combo license: $160

#6 Montana: Montana is sort of a sleeper state as far as Muleys go. They do have some good ones, and some pretty good opportunity, especially since they’ve raised prices to the point of pushing a decent number of non-residents out. Montana can be a great hunt, especially for an elk/deer combo, but expect to pay a little more for the chance.
Cost: Deer license: $580

These prices don’t include application fees, and if you’re already applying for elk, sheep, or another species in a state, you don’t have to purchase an additional hunting license, only the deer tag/license.

Keep in mind this is not a comprehensive list of Mule Deer states. There are mule deer hunts in California, Washington, Oregon, Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Alaska, The Dakotas, and Kansas (I’m sure I missed a state in there too). Each of these states has good, huntable populations of Mule Deer, and a chance at harvesting a wall hanger.


ALWAYS hunt your home state! If you’re fortunate to live in a mule deer state and you don’t have a better hunt somewhere else during the same time period, then hunt your state. You can typically hunt your resident state 6-10 times before you reach the cost of a non-resident hunt. That doesn’t include gas, which is nearly always a bigger expense than the tag price for an out of state hunt.

And, by the way…every state that has muleys, has big bucks. Pinch your pennies and hunt them as often as you can. The more you can live in big buck country, the higher your chance of coming across one. Good luck this year!

This article was originally published in EARNED – The DIY Journal. Written by Brad Carter – founder of

Red Desert Mule Deer Migration

One thing is certain, mule deer are some of the most amazing animals in the world! Thanks to GPS technologies, a recent study has found that the Red Desert Mule deer of Wyoming migrate 150 miles north into the Hoback basin. This herd, of approximately 500 animals travel across major highways, fences and development in the longest known migration in the lower 48! Take a few minutes and watch this video to learn more about this incredible feat.

You can also learn more at the link provided in the video:

New Contest Prizes and Info!

I’m excited to spread the word on our latest sponsor – Golden Valley Natural Meat Snacks. These guys have been in the jerky business for a long time and we’re excited to team up with them and provide their products to our contest winners. Check them out at:

You’ve probably heard about our contest that is going on this year – I’ve posted the final rules under the contests section of the site. We’re ending the contest on January 15th – so those of you who are taking photos at the end of the year still have time to get them in. The winners will be picked by Feb. 1, 2012. Thanks to the grand prize winner will receive taxidery services for a free shoulder mount. These guys do a good job on their mounts and I have used them personally. 3 others will be chosen as honorable mentions and recieve a bag of Golden Valley Natural beef jerky and a window decal. So get your photos sent in – the only rule is they need to be taken in the 2011 calendar year!

Speaking of winners – this photo comes in as our weekly fix winner. Seth took this unique buck on the Vernon unit in Utah with his smokepole!

Seth's Big Mule Deer Buck

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Weeky Fix – October 9, 2011

I’ve been getting a bunch of great pictures from this hunting season and will be choosing a bunch of winners over the next few months. To those of you who have taken some great photos this season — send me some more pictures! Not only can you have braggin rights for being featured on the coolest hunting website, but you can also win a window decal.

So without further rambling…here it is:

John took this awesome buck in Utah with his recurve! What an accomplishment! Congrats to John! Your decal will be in your mailbox shortly.

John's Big Utah Buck!
A few other newsworthy items, first off – we’ve launched our new online store – where you can pick up your very own window decal for just $4.95. We’re set up to accept credit/debt cards and paypal, all through the security and convenience of paypal’s system. So head over to THIS LINK ( and get yours while supplies last.

In other news, HUNTING SEASON IS STILL HERE! So get out there and tag something!

Best of luck to all of you from — The DIY Hunter’s Homepage!

Happy Hunting,

Brad Carter

First Muzzleloader Hunt

By Ben Carter

The 2008 Utah General season Muzzleloader hunt was a brand new experience to me. It was actually pretty new for our whole group. I didn’t even own a muzzleloader at the time.

I met up with my brother and our friend Thursday night. They had been hunting since Wednesday when the season had opened. We had scouted the area extensively during the bow season and had seen some nice bucks.

First light Friday morning found my brother and I set up in a tongue of trees that we had seen the deer using very frequently for cover while moving to a bedding area. Our friend was watching a different high-traffic area.

We were watching the basin below us as it illuminated into view, trying to find the animals that we knew would be there. Suddenly I froze. I whispered “there is something behind us.” My brother looked past me and saw the bucks. I dropped to the ground so he could shoot over me as the deer started to run. I could see 4 long tines silhouetted against the sky above us. “he is good, take him” I said. At that moment my face was full of smoke and my ears were ringing. The buck gave a hit-kick and took off down into the basin below us. There were a couple other bucks in the group so my brother reloaded and I ran up to see if they were still around. I found them 300 yard and moving away around the basin rim. I ran back to my brother so we would go find his deer. We jumped him again and finished him off down in the bottom of the basin. It was quite a grunt to pack him all the way up out of that basin and then back to camp.

Now I had a Gun. That night we saw some deer but nothing that we felt like pursuing. The next morning was Saturday, and we knew there would be more people. My brother and our friend went to where we had killed the buck the morning before, and I went to the other side of the mountain to watch two other basins where we had seen deer. As soon as I got on top I could see hunters coming from every direction. I turned back and headed to where I could radio my friend and brother and let them know that we had company. As I was moving under the rim of the basin I suddenly spotted 2 bucks staring at me through the trees. They were out of range for my weapon so I put some trees between us and tried to close the distance. I could tell they wanted to come into the trees that I was occupying and that was causing them to freeze up. I found an opening and I could see a buck looking into my location. All I could tell was that he was pretty wide and about 90 yards away. I lowered the hammer on him in flash of powder smoke and fire. Because my shooting window was so small I couldn’t tell if he was down or hit or anything. I climbed to the spot he had been and tried to guess the path he had taken around the shale face. I found him dead about 150 yards later.

What a thrill. I had made my first harvest with a muzzleloader. One shot, one kill. I radioed my brother and told him to come see if they could see where the other deer that were with him had gone over the top. They weren’t able to get on them, but 2 out of 3 ain’t bad. I am forever hooked on “smoke poles” now. This year I have my own, and I am excited for another great hunt.

Sometimes it ends too soon.

All that anticipation for about 3 hours of hunting. I’m not complaining, but sometimes it is funny how things work out. This year’s general muzzleloader hunt in Utah was short, but very cool.

Hunting rarely turns out as expected…

After planning this hunt with my brother and long time hunting partner, Ben, I expected to spend opening day hunting alone, that evening he would come down after work and hunt with me the rest of the week. I enjoy hunting with Ben because he hunts hard, and his hunting style is very similar to mine. So I was glad when he said he got the opener off and would meet me at camp the night before the season opened after dark.

Ben had been watching a great buck early in the season in a particular area, and I hoped to locate this deer (along with a few of his big buddies) the night before the season started so we could position ourselves accordingly before light the following morning. We knew, that along with the light, there would be other hunters – as can be expected on a general OTC hunt, especially in Utah.

This area isn’t a long hike from the road, it is rather steep however, and I barely made the top before dark. I spend about 15 minutes as the light was fading searching for any sign of the big buck. Nothing. I returned to camp, set up the tent in the dark (which was more difficult than it should have been with this particular tent), and waited to Ben’s arrival. He showed up as I was hammering the final tent stakes in with a big rock, trying not to injure a finger or toe. We talked about what I had seen that evening, which didn’t take very long, had some dinner, and hit the hay–in anticipation of what we might find the next morning.

4:30 came pretty early that morning. We wanted to be in position before anyone else so we made our way up the mountain plenty early. We set up on a ridge between two basins, each glassing one. As it was just getting light enough to see, I spotted a buck in the bottom the basin I was watching. I watched him for several minutes, waiting for the light to get a little brighter so I could judge him a little better. He looked like a heavy buck, but I couldn’t put him past his ears. I would expect that he was a 18-22 inch buck, I never did get points counted, as it was too dark and he fed into the timber. I continued to glass, checking in every now and then with Ben. He was not seeing any deer, just the lights from flashlights and headlamps of hunters moving around and across the basin he was watching.

I had a hunter move in from below, check the wind and move on. I’m pretty sure he never saw me, as he was quite intent on sneaking, even though I was only about 20 yards away. I watched a group of does and a small velvet covered spike feed out into the bottom of the basin. I set up the spotter to try and put some big antlers on one of those deer. They suddenly spooked, I turned around to see another hunter just above and behind me. I waved and walked up to talk to him. He told me there were at least 4 hunters on the top of the basin, I had seen one below and Ben had seen a lot of guys moving in from the other basin.

Ben and I decided to move. With all the surrounding pressure, we figured some deer would eventually get bumped. So we elected to move down the ridge, and work through the bottom of the basin I had been watching, up through the timber where I had seen the buck go at first light, and hopefully we could jump some bucks, have some pushed to us, or find some up and feeding in one of the secluded meadows, hidden from the view of hunters on the high ridges.

Let me go backwards just a little bit now. At least 2 of the hunters on the ridge, we had expected to be there. A good friend of mine had told me about this area several years ago, and his sister was planning on hunting the top of the basin. This played into our original plan, as I didn’t want to disrupt her hunt and was hoping she might knock a buck down first thing that morning.

Now back to the story…as we reached the bottom of the basin, we heard several shots above us near the top of the basin. We stalled, watching and listening for spooked deer to flash through the trees ahead of us…Nothing. We moved silently, listening, through a few open meadows in the bottom of the basin. We heard another shot above us (this totals 3 shots). But still no animals were spooked our way.

We continued moving forward, when suddenly I heard something ahead, and saw the flash of antlers come from around a tree about 30 yards ahead of me. The big buck was startled and hit the brakes when he saw us, turning and crossing to my left as he dodged a large deadfall. I was fumbling with the hammer on my muzzleloader as I raised the gun to my shoulder. The deer was picking up speed, I remembered thinking, “don’t hit him too far back.” My iron sights caught up with him and I swung to the front of his shoulder and let one fly. It rocked him hard, he turned towards me and stumbled back. He was dead within 10 steps. I had hit him perfectly through the front shoulder.

Ben had been a few steps behind me watching the excitement. “More bucks!” he yelled, and took off on a “Lance Merrell Run” towards them. They were moving to our right about 80 yards from me. After his heroic sprint, the deer passed Ben at fewer than 20 yards, all broadside and moving past in single file…3 point, 3 point, 2 point. He let them run and the forest quieted down again.

I walked up to the downed deer.

I would not have thought that I would have killed my biggest buck to date with a Muzzleloader on Utah’s General hunt. The buck is 27.5 inches wide and gross scores just shy of 184 inches.

The one and only

This year has been a hectic one. I have only donned the camo twice and both times were for evening  jaunts with a good friend looking for a poor little buck in Northern Utah. No bucks were seen on either of these occasions. Typically by this time of year I have put in 8-10 days of hard hunting with my bow chasing bucks or bulls, or whatever.

But I am looking forward to next week – Utah’s General Muzzleloader season. The only hunt I have planned for this fall is the Utah general deer hunt.  I plan on spending the better part of next week chasing bucks in the Southeast region. This will be my third year hunting this particular area as part of the dedicated hunter program and have harvested one deer…and missed one. The first deer was taken 2 years ago. I hadn’t taken a mule deer buck in several years, and was getting a little bit frustrated finding anything worth shooting in the Cache Valley area. While on a scouting trip for a friend’s elk hunt, I managed to run into about 6 bucks in a high mountain meadow. While none of these bucks were monsters, one was a pretty 27 inch four point, who stood facing me at 60 yards while a few of his comrades busted me from fewer than ten. That winter I changed my region and spent the next year bow hunting every weekend, and finally filled my tag on the third day of the muzzleloader season with a pretty little basket racked buck. Having not taken a buck in several years, I had been holding out for a 4 point, and when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. The next morning I lent my gun to my brother and he managed to take a big three point, his biggest buck to date.

Last year was much like the previous. The bow hunt was full of close calls and near misses. I never launched an arrow, but came very close nearly every day. The muzzleloader hunt rolled around, and I did not find a buck that I wanted to fill my tag with. A good friend of mine was hunting with me and we tried our best to get him his first buck. After a few exciting stalks, we were outsmarted and the deer got away, as did we, with not much more than a few stories to show for it. Ben (brother) had better luck. He jumped a 24 inch 4 point from its bed and somehow stuck an arrow through his lungs before he got away. The buck died within 100 yards of his big three point from the year before. Now they hang together on his wall, perhaps they “hung” together the previous year while still alive.

The rifle hunt got a little bit interesting. I missed a good buck opening morning. I’m not sure how, it happened really fast, and I think I must have shot over him as the shot angle was steeper than I thought. Another good friend, who had never killed a buck either, was along with me and we did manage to harvest a young 3×4. He was all grins as he missed the buck once, but we found him bedded a few minutes later, where he made up for past mistakes and put a good shot as the buck stood to run. A first buck is always a good buck!

I came home after that hunt, a little bit disappointed that I had missed a good buck, but in a way excited for the upcoming years, as I could still harvest bucks the next 2 years.

So it brings us to this year. My wife and I were blessed to welcome our first little hunting buddy into the world in early August. He has kept us both very busy and I have not had the time to get away to hunt yet. So I’m looking foward to next week, hoping I can make good on two years worth of anticipation and take a good buck. I’m not expecting to harvest a monster, although I’ve heard rumors of a few good bucks running around. I would be tickled to take a nice deer, somewhere in the 150-160 class. I think it’s very doable and will report back in a little over a week.

Until then, happy hunting to all you Hunt Addicts. I hope you have a safe and successful season.

BTW, here is a picture that Steve sent me from Wyoming. He’s had a successful season. I’ll post up the story when I get back. In the meantime…keep those pictures coming guys!

2 Bucks in 2 Minutes

Story Courtesy of

We have all heard stories about waiting an eternity for that perfect tag and my dad, Jeff, is no exception having waited since 1989 for his “Strip” monster mule deer tag. I am only 16 and have taken three elk, two mule deer, a buffalo, and three javelina. But what is even more amazing is that in 2004, we both put in separately for 13B deer tags and drew!

We had ten days to hunt for our big bucks and we planned to use every one of them. School, Schmool….this was a 13B tag! After a few days of seeing more coyotes than deer, (we got two of them), most of the crowd left and my dad and I were left to do what we love… and glass, hike and glass, hike and glass, and drive and glass. We found a few groups of does with little bucks and checked those from time to time while looking for new groups of deer. We hunted in the sunshine, we hunted in the rain, and we hunted in the snow. We hunted in the pines, we hunted in the canyons, we hunted in the sagebrush, we hunted in the junipers, and we hunted in the sand. After eight days of nothing over 22 inches we were worn out.

Friends, Chris Wright and Jason Gisi, said that they would come up for the last two days and when they arrived they said the two foot stack of dishes in the sink and the empty boxes of cereal were their first clue that we were on the downside. They gave us some secret southern Utah deer hunting sauce, (Mt. Dew), raised our spirits by telling us stories of people getting their deer on the last day, and then we were ready to go. That evening we checked a group of our pre-scouted does and amazingly, there was a big buck with them. Being 1,000 yards away, Jason sat me down on a little chair he pulled from his backpack, set up some monster binoculars, and described the buck to me while I was looking through his binoculars. He said it was a three by four that appeared to be almost 30 inches wide and would probably score a little over 180. After nine days of does, coyotes, and dinks, (that what they called the little bucks), I was ready.

My dad and I started the stalk down the ridge and up the other side only to find no mule deer. As we came up the next ridge, there he was at 40 yards. Suddenly, the mule deer ran into the cedars and my dad grabbed the hood of my jacket and drug me up the ridge until he found an opening. When the buck appeared, I shot and hit a few inches too far back. The monster buck ran down the ravine and my dad grabbed my hood and drug me back down the ridge until we found another opening. I shot him again and he was down! All of a sudden there were does everywhere. Instantly my dad sat down, got ready to shoot, and said, “Watch the hillside and tell me if you see the big buck.” I questioned why he was going to shoot my buck when it was already dead on the ground but it all became clear when another big buck entered an opening on a dead run. My dad quickly shot and down he went! What a shot he made! Both our bucks were down within 40 yards of each other and my deer scored 185 and my dad’s buck scored 198! The stories of getting your deer during the last few days were true, and not only that, we got two bucks in two minutes!